FREETOWN, NOVEMBER 30, 2020. The APRM Health Governance and COVID-19 response Targeted Review Field Mission culminated in a courtesy call on H.E Dr Julius Maada BIO (Rtd. Brgd), President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, at the Presidential Lodge on the morning of November 30th, 2020.
After the introduction of government officials, members of the APRM National Structures, staff from the APRM Continental Secretariat, and a short presentation made by H.E Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Vice-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the head of delegation, Ambassador Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, delivered her remarks in which she outlined the key findings of the Field Mission to H.E Dr. Julius Maada Bio and thanked him for the hospitality accorded to her and the delegation she led to Sierra Leone.
Recalling the engagements the Field Mission Team had with a host of stakeholders in and out of Freetown, Ambassador Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika emphasized the effectiveness and preparedness of Sierra Leonean authorities in the fight against the pandemic as well as the candor of the people of Sierra Leone during the discussions held with them. In addition, she praised the involvement of the Sierra Leonean diaspora in the COVID-19 response which she deemed phenomenal. She concluded by saying that she looked forward to the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the Targeted Review.
Following the Lead Panel Member for Sierra Leone’s remarks, H.E Dr Julius Maada Bio made an address. He welcomed the APRM Field Mission Team to Sierra Leone and expressed his hope that it will return to the country in future for leisure or business. He also sent his best wishes to Prof Eddy Maloka, CEO of the APRM Continental Secretariat, whose leadership at the helm of the continental organization he appreciated.
The government of Sierra Leone, under the leadership of H.E Dr Julius Maada Bio, is committed to delivering tangible results for Sierra Leoneans. It regards COVID-19 as a security issue which must be resolutely tackled. As a testament to this, the Centre for Disease Control recently put Sierra Leone in a group of only four countries in Africa that have a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. H.E Dr Julius Maada Bio affirmed that Africa is a developing continent and must therefore anticipate challenges. When Ebola struck Sierra Leone, he was in the opposition away from Sierra Leone but decided to return and play a role in its eradication by engaging the community that had doubt on the existence of Ebola.
Some of the best practices established during Ebola such as contact tracing and surveillance have been useful in the fight against COVID-19. As in the rest of the continent, the government of Sierra Leone was confronted with difficult choices: saving lives or protecting livelihoods. Lockdowns of not more than three days were declared to prepare health structures without causing harm to the public. Furthermore, cash transfers and food distribution were made to vulnerable Sierra Leoneans to mitigate the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 in the country.
While Sierra Leone harnessed science and data to respond to COVID-19, it has been dedicated to using scientific knowledge to inform public policy since the start of H.E Dr Julius Maada Bio’s administration. To be sure, science, technology and innovation have been identified as pillars to grow Sierra Leone even before COVID-19 reached the country. Hence, the national management of COVID-19 from which other African countries can draw meaningful lessons, has been remarkable and inspiring.